It seems like a page out of a fairy tale: After years of begging and pleading, children exclaim over their new-found canine playmate. If parents don’t take care to maintain a safe environment, teach responsibility, and encourage bonding, the story may not end with the “happily ever after” each parent desires.
Choosing a kid-friendly breed will get you off to a good start; ideally, you want a fairly docile dog who’s also playful. Training your dog provides the next step to a safe dog/child combination. While leaving kids and dogs unattended can be risky, supervising is only as effective as the supervisor’s knowledge, attentiveness, and reactions. Knowing dogs’ warning signs or “stress signals” such as half-moon eyes, closed mouth, and turning away can help you discern when intervention may be needed.
Many classroom teachers and principals are using contracts, these days. By having kids share in the development of an agreement, they’re asking them to take responsibility for their actions. You can do the same at home, using this printable Pet Care Contract as a guide. You can frame it, stick it on the fridge, or file it away for easy reference if (or, let’s be real here, when) you need it.
Again, borrowing from the teacher’s bag of tricks, you can help your youngsters keep track of their responsibilities with a printable chart like this one or this customizable one. If you have multiple children sharing in the responsibility, rotating chores each week, or based on the day of the week, can help promote teamwork and decrease the chances of whining. Maybe. Like any chore charts, you can help motivate your kids by providing rewards or withholding privileges based on achievements.
Of course, dog ownership involves much more than maintaining safety and proper care. Among the many types of pets people choose, dogs are perhaps best known for their ability to bond with humans. Allowing your child to help name your dog, choose your dog’s collar, and pick out other accessories or toys can get the relationship off to a great start. Encouraging your child to play with your dog in ways that are both safe and enjoyable for both of them is a definite plus.
Many photographers run special promotions for pets, and some kid-friendly trainers allow children to participate in the process. Once you’re past the basics, you can encourage your kids to teach your dogs new tricks at home. They can even post videos of their antics online.
Many parents find that watching their kids establish relationships with dogs becomes a rewarding experience for both them and their children. As long as you establish a safe environment, the long-lasting benefits of dog ownership can long outlast the learning curve of training your child and your dog to peacefully and happily coexist.
K9 Kingdom of Pittsburgh, PA
K9Kingdom serves as a valuable resource for all dogs’ needs and safety. K9 Kingdom offers a fun, social group play environment for dogs in our Doggie Daycare. Located in Wexford, PA (northern suburb of Pittsburgh) and serving neighboring communities such as Cranberry, Bradford Woods, Allison Park, McCandless, and north Pittsburgh, K9 Kingdom is a full service pet care facility. We cater specifically to dog owners who love to spoil their pets and treat them like family members. Contact us today at 724.935.DOGS or visit our website at myk9kingdom.com for more information.